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March 20, 2009

Steve Stricker


MARK WILLIAMS: Steve, welcome to the interview room at the Transitions Championship. Just tell us about your day today.
STEVE STRICKER: It was good. I hit a lot of greens in regulation. I think I only missed two greens today. I had a lot of opportunities. I didn't putt particularly well, I didn't think, but again I had a lot of opportunities, and didn't have a blemish on the scorecard, which is always a good thing, especially around here.
So it was a good day. Sets me up for hopefully a good weekend.
MARK WILLIAMS: Seems to be a regular occurrence this year, a lot of sub-par rounds.
STEVE STRICKER: It's been good. All part of my game have gotten a little bit better I think. I'm driving it a little bit better. My iron play has gotten a little bit better. It still needs some work but I'm trying to stay away from the bogeys.
Yesterday was kind of an unusual round for me. I made a double and some bogeys. 'I made some dumb mistakes yesterday and I tried to clean that up today and I did.

Q. Did it early?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, second hole, dug it into the bunker, 3-putted from 30 feet. Didn't get off to a very good start but from then on played pretty good.

Q. Pretty easy to put that behind you, or not always?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, it's easier because you have a lot of holes left. You're upset because you got off to such a cruddy start but you have so many holes left that my feeling was that there's time to get it back, even though you're kicking yourself for making -- especially the 3-putt.
I could have walked off there with a bogey and been a little bit happier. But after 3-putting and making double, you're kicking yourself a little bit. But you realize there's a lot of golf left.

Q. Mark told me an interesting thing coming in.
MARK WILLIAMS: Apart from the FBR Open where you missed the cut, every single round apart from the last round at the Bob Hope, you've been under par. That's amazing.

Q. Did you know that?
STEVE STRICKER: I didn't know that, no.

Q. Does it surprise you?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, I know that I've been playing well. I know that I've been shooting some good scores, but no, I haven't paid attention to that.
I look at my stats and I realize I was up there in the stroke average, that kind of stuff. So obviously I must have been shooting some decent scores, but I kind of attributed that to that 20-some under at the Bob Hope. (Laughter).
But no, it's been good. It's been consistent, and I'm just trying to continue to do it.

Q. It's got to be meaningful for you, though. I'm not suggesting you were the kind of guy who you were down in the depths are still terrified of getting down there again, but to come into a new year with a clean slate and to be able to continue.
STEVE STRICKER: It does mean a lot. Every year, I think for everybody, every year you enter into the year with a lot of unknowns, and you're not sure how your game is going to be.
And I think the start of the year, to me, has always been very important, just so you feel like you get off to a good start, and I did this year, and I feel like I've just kind of continued on with the momentum. And it really even started at Tiger's event, because that was my start of the year, the Merrill Lynch and Tiger's event, and hit the ball well there.
So you know, it kind of got me in the right frame of mind to start the year off.
MARK WILLIAMS: What you alluded to, the start that you had yesterday, obviously playing so good this year, that's got to give you so much confidence when you do have a start like that, don't you think?
STEVE STRICKER: No doubt. And I don't get spooked nearly as much as I used to, and if I do get off to a bad start, you know, I'm not -- I can't say that I'm more at ease, but I'm not spooked, you know, where I've experienced it so many times. I mean, it's just golf. It's one hole out of 72 this week, and you've just got to kind of blow it off and shrug it off and move on, and that's what I've been doing very well the last, you know, four years probably.

Q. Because I was inside eating cookies all morning, would you mind telling us about your birdies?
STEVE STRICKER: Started on the back. Birdied No. 12. Hit a 3-iron, 9-iron to about five feet. That was it on that side.
Then birdied No. 4, par 3. Hit a 7-iron to about 12 feet.
Birdied 5. 9-iron to about probably 25 feet.
Then No. 8, the par 3, I hit a 5-iron to 15 feet.

Q. It's a weird course. Only one birdie on the par 5s, but you can't get to which par 5s? You get to 1, I guess if you really cook one.
STEVE STRICKER: No. 1, I could have given it a rip today. I can't get to the other one on the front.
No. 11 is borderline. I got to 111 yesterday in the afternoon but that was downwind. This morning I wouldn't have been able to get to it.
Then the other one, 14, you've got to hit two good shots on all of them to get an eagle opportunity or to knock it on them. And I can't get to that one, No. 5.

Q. You look at this leaderboard, a minute ago, anyway, at the top, 15 guys, only one was a non-PGA TOUR winner. Would that surprise you? It would seem like this really identifies who is playing well more than other courses.
STEVE STRICKER: You know, it's a course, too, I think you've got to feel comfortable on, too, and have gone around it a few times. Know where your chances are here and know when to fire it in the center of the green.
There's a lot of holes out here where you just need to fire to the center of the green and take your par and move on. It's just tough. The rough is up here and it's a good driving course, and you just have to be patient and pay attention.
MARK WILLIAMS: It's kind of neat that you're in here right now, because this morning Sheila Johnson, the owner of the resort came in, and she's a University of Illinois came in, and they were asking how Steve Stricker was going.
STEVE STRICKER: Is she feeling the pain of Illinois last night, too? (Laughter).

Q. Is Wisconsin in this year?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, they play Florida State tonight.

Q. Did you know who Illinois played last night?
STEVE STRICKER: I did. I had a bet with Kenny Perry. Didn't go my way. (Laughter).

Q. What was the best shot you hit today?
STEVE STRICKER: Probably the shot on 8 coming in. I hit a little 5-iron, the par 3, and I was kind of in-between clubs and got maybe a hard 6 but took a five and got it up in the air and landed fairly soft, ran it up to 15 feet and made the putt.
I played the par 3s 2-under today, which is good around here. Those are the ones you need to pay attention on and get it in the center of the green for the most part, because they are long par 3s and you don't want to short-side yourself.
But if you play the par 3s well here this week, play them at even par or better, you're doing well.

Q. Masters run-up is Houston?
STEVE STRICKER: It is. Week off next week, and then Houston. Kids are coming and we are going to the parks next week in Orlando.

Q. Just as a regular, Midwestern, All-American kind of guy who only pretended to go to Illinois, what are your memories of Greg Norman at the Masters?
STEVE STRICKER: Coming so close a few times. I guess the memory that sticks out in my mind, just because I see it over and over, is when he fell to the ground at 15 after almost chipping it in, and when he got beat by Faldo that year.
I remember the shot on 18 when he had a chance, too, coming down the stretch.

Q. With Nicklaus?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, that's right, '86. So those two, I mean, for whatever reason. He's had some great Masters there, too, but those are the ones that stick out, and how close he was to winning it more than once.
MARK WILLIAMS: Thanks, Steve, for coming in and joining us.

End of FastScripts

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